Montclair State Film Students Leave Lasting Impressions on Audiences at Montclair Film Festival

By

Published October 24, 2021
A A A Share
The Montclarion
MSU New Visions is a showcase of visually compelling, emotionally powerful short films created by Montclair State's top student filmmakers. Photo courtesy of Montclair Film

A selection of 11 short films made by Montclair State University film students made it onto the big screen at Clairidge Theater on Oct. 23, where they had the opportunity to showcase their senior thesis films for friends, family and avid movie-goers as a part of the MSU New Visions program.

2021 marks the Montclair Film Festival’s 10th anniversary and first year back with fully in-person screenings since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started back in 2020. Last year, they held a hybrid festival; the in-person screenings premiered at a drive-in.

The newly renovated Clairidge Theater (once known as Bow Tie Cinemas), which had been closed since the pandemic, is owned and operated by the nonprofit, Montclair Film.

Viewers gather in the lobby of Clairidge Theater and meet with filmmakers, actors and more after the screenings. Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Viewers gather in the lobby of Clairidge Theater and meet with filmmakers, actors and more after the screenings.
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

Montclair Film took substantial COVID-19 safety precautions. All guests were required to show their vaccination card with a valid ID along with their ticket. Guests were also required to wear a mask at all times indoors unless they were eating or drinking.

Montclair State’s top student filmmakers presented a wonderful collection of visually compelling and emotionally powerful short films. The selections were diverse and particularly unique from each other. There was a film for lovers of any genre. These varied from comedy, drama, documentary, experimental and much more.

Rose Kershner, a senior communication and media arts major, came out to support her friends’ films.

“I got to see so many other student films, which were so good and just so many different things that I’ve never even thought about or heard about,” Kershner said. “So, it was awesome.”

Rose Kershner came out to support her friend Charlee Reiff, director of "The Art Of Colored Mush." Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Rose Kershner (right) came out to support her friend Charlee Reiff (left), director of “The Art Of Colored Mush.”
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

“The Art of Colored Mush” is a documentary short on claymation and visual effects artist Spaghetti Jesus. Shot and edited by 2021 alumna Charlee Reiff, the film displays intriguing visuals and reveals the intensive time and dedication it takes to create claymation projects.

Reiff had several supporters come out to see the final product of her film, which made for a really special moment for the filmmaker.

“It was definitely fulfilling,” Reiff said. “This is also one of the first times I’ve been back in theaters since [COVID-19]. So, that on top of it being my movie and movies of my friends, it was a really wonderful, communal experience.”

Charlee Reiff, a Montclair State filmmaking alumna, presented her film, "The Art of Colored Mush" at the Montclair Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Charlee Reiff, a Montclair State filmmaking alumna, presented her film, “The Art of Colored Mush,” at the Montclair Film Festival.
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

Directed by alumnus Anthony Chidichimo, who graduated in spring 2021, “Mob Mentality” is a short film that came across as a love letter to mafia films and the state of New Jersey itself. The cinematography, dialogue and story are reminiscent of mob classics like “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos.”

Yet, Chidichimo managed to make it his own and had the theater roaring.

“I was really happy about that,” Chidichimo said. “It was surreal because, you know, I used to watch movies all the time growing up, and obviously I wanted to be a filmmaker. Just being in that moment, being on the big screen it’s like, ‘Oh my god, there it is! There’s my artwork on the screen!’ Seeing it on the big screen, that’s the dream.”

Anthony Chidichio&squot;s "Mob Mentality" had viewers roaring in the theater. Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Anthony Chidichimo’s “Mob Mentality” had viewers roaring in the theater.
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

Niko Lento, a theatre studies alumnus, came out to support his long-time friend Chidichimo and felt exceedingly proud.

“It’s so insane because I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen movies here with my friends,” Lento said. “So, it’s so incredibly surreal and incredible to see his film on the same screens that we would see movies on together.”

Friends of Anthony Chidichio, director of "Mob Mentality," came out to support their friend&squot;s directorial debut. Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Friends of Anthony Chidichimo, director of “Mob Mentality,” came out to support their friend’s directorial debut.
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

One film that really resonated with the problems COVID-19 brought to this country was senior Adam Chhour’s “7 O’Clock.” It tells the story of a young Asian doctor who navigates his way through a day at work, feeling the weight of helping those battling the COVID-19 virus and the hostility against Asian Americans that came with it.

There has been a rapid increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. Stemming from the misinformation about the spread of the virus being the fault of Asian people, some violent attacks resulted in the tragic deaths of many.

Chhour brilliantly captures the struggle in which Asian essential workers on the frontlines are torn between feeling like heroes one moment and being portrayed as villains the next.

“The biggest part of why I created this film was to show awareness of the problems that we face as an Asian community,” Chhour said. “The biggest part was that people weren’t aware of what was happening to us. The racism, the harassment, the violence that we have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic was something that I really wanted to show.”

Adam Chhour brilliantly captures the struggle Asian essential workers on the frontlines face in his film "7 o&squot;clock." Photo courtesy of Denise Jugo

Adam Chhour brilliantly captures the struggle Asian essential workers on the frontlines face in his film “7 O’Clock.”
Denise Jugo | The Montclarion

Each and every film left an impact on the audience and received assuring acclamations. The MSU New Visions program proved the immense talent that Montclair State’s filmmaking students wield. Each filmmaker unequivocally left their mark in the world of film.

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.